Inflation is making many essential items expensive and resulting in a higher cost of living. Other than trying to earn more money to cope with the rising costs, it is also important that we watch our expenses and find ways to spend less, and save more so that we will always have more each month.
1. Work From Library (Save Electric Bills For Lighting and Aircon)
If you are working from home but find the heat unbearable, you may need to turn on the aircon in your house. By working from the library, you get to use the aircon and lighting there and save up on your electricity cost.
Personally, I find the library a more conducive environment than my own house because there are so many distractions at home. Some libraries offer very nice scenic views like the one at Vivocity (see above pic) or the one at Orchard Central (see below pic).
2. Cut Your Own Fruits (Save Costs Buying From Fruit Stall)
The cost price for most fruits (except those organic berries) is quite low but when they are sold in fruit stalls, especially if they help you cut and pack nicely in plastic bags, they become expensive.
Let’s take a look at these 2 photos that I took on the same day.
NTUC supermarket was selling 3 red dragonfruits for $2.60.
I walked 100m out to the fruit stall that is located outside NTUC and found out that half a cut dragonfruit cost $2.
If I were to buy the dragonfruit from NTUC supermarket and cut myself, each dragonfruit (half) would cost me $0.43 ($2.60 / 6), thus saving me $1.57 per dragonfruit (half). If I were to eat 10 dragonfruit halves per month, I would have saved $15.70 every month or $188.40 per year.
When I was working at the office regularly, I used to bring my own apples to work every day so that I get to eat an apple every day after lunch. I then bought a fruit skin peeler (for less than $2) to cut off the skin.
3. Bring Your Own Beverage For Lunch (Save Cost Buying Juices Or Other Drinks)
This is another money-saving hack that I did when I was working at the office every day. I used a vacuum flask to contain either warm water, honey water, or green tea (which I get the hot water and sachet from the office pantry). That allowed me to save up on beverages, desserts, or fruit juice that cost around $1.50 to $3.
Taking an average of $2 per drink, I would have saved $520 per year (52 weeks x 5 working days x $2) on drinks during lunches. Also, it is definitely healthier to drink tea or warm water after a meal as compared to sugar-rich desserts or fruit juice.
4. Watch Free Movie On YouTube (Save Subscription Fees On Streaming Services)
These are the streaming services subscription fees compiled by the good people at Seedly.
For me, YouTube is more than enough because there is so much good content to enrich my learning journey. I learned the fundamentals of options trading through watching tons of YouTube videos and there are some very good free movies on YouTube too. I have shared some of my favorite movies below.
If you are a Stephen Chow movie fan, you can find many of his classic movies on YouTube as well.
5. Working Out At Fitness Corner And Indoor Jogging Track (Save Up Gym Membership)
This is an overview of some of the cheapest gym membership fees in Singapore.
What if you could work out at the free fitness corner that is near your residence? You would have saved up on the gym membership fees every month.
Maybe you prefer to jog/run under shelter?
Then check out the sports track (888m) at 100PLUS Promenade, which is open to the public 24 hours a day and is conveniently located near the Stadium MRT, where the walkway leads to the tracks is all sheltered.
The users of the tracks get to enjoy scenic views of Singapore’s skyline, including the majestic Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands. Dining facilities such as foodcourt and fast-food restaurants are located beneath the track as well. There are free lockers available for public use in OCBC Arena building from 7am to 10pm.
6. Rent A Car Instead Of Buying One
The cost of owning a COE (Certificate Of Entitlement) for a small car is already $80k, and factor in the cost of the car and interest on the car loan, it is easily 100k to use the car for 10 years, which is about 10k per year. There are other costs to factor in such as road tax, insurance, car park fees, and maintenance fees.
The cheaper alternative to owning a car, assuming you do not wish to use public transport or want to go remote places not accessible by bus or train, is to rent one instead. I have previously reviewed two carsharing/ rental companies in this post:
How To Drive A Car Without Owning One? Car Sharing Review: Getgo Vs. BlueSG
I am currently using Getgo services and I am quite impressed with the number of new cars that they have. In recent weeks, I have driven brand new Ssangyong Tivoli and Hyundai Avante CN7 cars, where some of the plastic covering the seat belt buckle and display screen were still unremoved.
7. Credit Card Sign-Up Promotion
You can refer to the Singsaver or Moneysmart website for credit card sign-up promotions and get some cash rebates for the credit cards that you apply for.
Take, for example, if you sign up for the Citibank Cash Back Card, you can get a $350 cash rebate if you spend a minimum of $500 within 30 days of card approval.
You can sign up for more credit cards from a few banks to get more cash rebates, but do remember to cancel them if you are not using them, so as not to incur extra annual fees. You can also use the credit cards that you have applied to make payments and earned extra cashback every month. The below cashback reward table is for the BOC Family card.
8. Top Up Your / Your Loved Ones CPF Account For Tax Relief
Every year, you can top to your own CPF SA account or your family member’s CPF SA account (up to a maximum of $8,000 per account) to enjoy an equivalent amount of tax relief. Therefore, if you top up $8,000 to your own SA account and top up another $8,000 to your parent’s SA/ RA account, you will enjoy a tax relief of $16,000.
The maximum amount you can top up has increased to $8,000 in 2022 (was $7,000 in the previous year). However, do note that you can only top up your SA account if you have not reached the Full Retirement Sum (FRS).
What I did for my parent was that they have some insurance saving plans expiring and I helped them to top up their CPF account using their own money. For example, my mum transferred $8,000 to me that she redeemed when her saving plans reached maturity. I logged in my CPF account and topped up her SA (or Retirement Account) using the money that she transferred to my bank. Therefore, she received a top up in the SA (or RA) account to earn 4% interest while I enjoyed the tax relief.
There are also other ways to enjoy tax relief.
If your taxable income falls under the lowest tier after the tax relief, you are able to avoid the higher tax rates in the next tier.
Paying lesser taxes each month means more savings for you as you expend less of your income on the taxes.
9. Get Free Stuff On The Internet (Save Shopping Cost And The Earth)
You may be surprised to know that there is plenty of free stuff (some brand new) that is being offered by owners on various platforms such as Carousell and Facebook.
You can do a filtered search on Carousell and check out the list of brand-new free items offered by people seeking to give their unwanted items a second lease of life.
Over on Facebook, you can join these groups to get free stuff from owners who do not need these items anymore:
You can also search the freecycle groups and join them to grab free stuff.
There is also the Singapore Freecycle’s Trash Nothing website where you can visit and browse for furniture or appliances that people are giving for free:
There is a Freegan in Singapore interest group, where the folks go around hunting for discarded items (perishables and non-perishables) that are still in good/edible condition.
Maybe some people may think that getting something for free is a cheapo thing to do but there is clearly more good than bad. By getting these free stuff, you save yourself money in purchasing them and at the same time give these items a new lease of life. Most importantly, you help to reduce wastage and save the Earth.
10. Live Within Your Means
This is more of a principle than a method of saving money. If you are not a high-income earner, it is okay to stay in an HDB flat and you do not need to buy a private property for the sake of measuring up against others. If your office is next to the MRT and you are spending most of your time working in the office, it is okay to take public transport and not burden yourself with the high cost of owning a car.
It is also okay to eat at the hawker center or coffeeshop instead of a fancy restaurant all the time. It is okay to eat cai fan (economical rice) when you are tight on budget or include it as part of your lifestyle, instead of eating xiao long bao (Chinese steamed meat dumpling) every week. These can be simple pleasures in life that can be delightful at times, especially when you discover a cai fan stall that sells cheap and tasty food.
It is not a shameful thing if you did not buy a property or car by the time you reach a certain age or years of working. If you need to use material things to impress others or to prove your worth, then you probably have some self-esteem issues to work on. We all have our own individual strengths and gifts that make us unique and special and people respect you because of your mannerism, your attitude, and how you treat people. If you are filthy rich but an asshole, people are still going to shun you anyway.
I made a video on materialism, wealth and happiness and I hope it enlightens you.
Many people may think to cope with the rising cost of living, we must work harder to earn more money. However, if we do not watch our spending, we will still struggle with our expenses. A person who earns $20,000 a month but spends $18,000 per month will have less savings than one who earns $6,000 a month but spends only $2000. If we compound the savings over the years, the difference becomes very significant. So, it is important that we watch our spending habits and save whenever we can because they all add up (whether spending or savings) in the long run.
I hope you find this article useful and if you have any more money-saving tips that you find effective, please feel free to share them in the comments.
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